The popular blue tank engine is still tops with Aussie preschools, as GFK’s latest industry report from December found that Thomas & Friends was the territory’s number-one preschool license with year-to-date sales up 13%.
The series has a strong TV presence on ABC Australia and Nickelodeon, along with agent Haven Licensing driving a well-rounded CP program, selling nearly two million DVDs to date, and more than 200 million books worldwide. The property generates US$1.6 billion annually at retail worldwide and it’s not stopping there. Haven recently appointed XSystem Entertainment Australia to roll out mini-shows in shopping centers from early this year.
Over in North America, Thomas will be pulling into more than 45 heritage railroads in the US and Canada as part of Day Out With Thomas 2009: The Hero of the Rails Tour. Sponsored by The Lego Group, the event gives families and their little ones the chance to ride on a 15-ton replica of Thomas the Tank Engine and take part in a variety of themed entertainment.
Now in its 14th year, the tour kicks off in March and is expected to attract more than one million passengers at approximately 300 event days through the end of the year. Kids will be given a tour map to guide them through four stops – the Imagination Station with Lego Duplo bricks and hands-on arts & craft activities, the Meet & Greet with Sir Topham Hatt, the Storytelling/Video Viewing area with live music, and the gift shop. After receiving stamps on their map from each stop, each child gets a 3-D Thomas poster with glasses.